When can I take a pregnancy test?
You can take a pregnancy test from the first day after you have missed a period; most women have regular periods and will be able to tell straight away if their period is late. If you have irregular periods and are not sure when your next period should come, you can take a pregnancy test three weeks after you had unprotected sex. There are some tests which can be taken before a missed period; you can ask your pharmacist for details about these products.
How does the test work?
The test measures the amount of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), in the urine; the body starts to produce the HCG hormone after the egg has been fertilised by the sperm. Most pregnancy tests can detect HCG around 2 weeks after conception. The test will not be affected by the presence of other hormones, such as those in the contraceptive pill (oestrogen and progesterone).
How accurate are the results?
In almost all cases, a positive result from a test will be accurate. Negative results are not always as accurate. It is best to do at least two tests and if you are still unsure you can arrange to see your GP. Home tests are as accurate as those used by health professionals if they are used in the appropriate way; make sure you read the instructions carefully. You may have to wait to do a pregnancy test, as the body may not have produced enough HCG for a test to be able to detect it until around 2 to 3 weeks after conception.
Where can I get a pregnancy test?
Pregnancy tests are widely available from supermarkets, chemists and high street stores.
Doing the test
Read the instructions carefully before you take the test. You can take the test at any time of the day but it is best to try and avoid drinking a lot of fluids before doing the test; this can dilute the concentration of the HCG which may affect the result of the test.
What should I do if the result is positive?
If you get a positive result it is a good idea to try and arrange an appointment with your GP.